In designing interfaces for building planes, writing plugins, etc. one of the main design questions that keeps coming up is: to copy or to reference? Should authors simply refer to an art asset, piece of data, or code in order to utilize it, or should the author copy a snapshot into the custom add-on. There isn't one right answer. Here are the main considerations.
Performance and Efficiency
One of the obvious considerations is efficiency: in some cases we might be able to provide better performance when an art asset is referred from a common source.
For example, in some cases X-Plane will consolidate VRAM use based on actual files, so a library object is loaded once no matter how many packages use it, but is loaded many times if a package copies it.
(In other cases X-Plane will actually merge multiple copies of a resource - referencing is only a win in some cases.)
An indirect consideration: if an art asset is provided by Laminar Research and is used by reference, then a new update can provide a new, better optimized art asset - see below.
Dependencies and Contracts
When someone uses an art asset, algorithm, etc. by reference, it creates an implicit contract by the provider of the asset by reference to not change the properties of the asset. By comparison, when the asset is copied, the contract is only to support the format that the asset is encoded in.
This is the main reason why I am often against providing new assets by reference, whether it is a new dataref, texture, etc. Often I will simply send a user a snippet of code, rather than making X-Plane's version available via a dataref. The idea is that copying does not create a new interface (and thus a new "contract") between X-Plane and the add-on.
Copyright and Legal Issues
For historical reasons, the US legal system describes the privileges of intellectual property owners by regulating the act of copying. (To say that this is a bit quaint in the digital age doesn't even scratch the surface, but that's a rant for another post.) The result of this particular regulation of copying (but not of referencing) is that the decision to provide an asset by copy vs. reference has legal implications. If the author does not want to go through licensing, referencing may be the only option.