In the 1940s, the sociologist Robert K. Merton defined four norms of ethical science (communism, universalism, disinterestedness, organized scepticism, or in short C. U. D. O. S.) (Reinhart, 2012). One of these principles, a kind of knowledge communism, included the demand that the product of scientific work, knowledge, should become the common property of all, while the individual's claim to property is limited to social recognition (e.g. prizes, naming, quoting the author).
Demands for the disclosure of scientific data can be found already in the 1970s in agreements between NASA and its international partners, as well as in the 1990s in the course of a discussion about an open and free international exchange of scientific data (in particular environmental and meteorological data), whose advocates included the National Research Council of the USA, the OECD (Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development) and the WMO (World Meteorological Organisation).
The ISO standardization projects and the preparation of OGC specifications since the mid-1990s have played an important role in the opening up of spatial data. These specifications represent the technological basis for the development of national (e.g. GDI-DE, geo.admin.ch, Geoland.at) and international spatial data infrastructures (e.g. INSPIRE, GSDI). These activities do not per se mean free access to geodata and services for everyone, but also serve the cooperation between public authorities and the distribution of geoinformation as commodities. However, they created the technical prerequisites for the utilization (i.e. access, linking and integration into automated workflows) of the data sets that are increasingly available today.