Prior to 1665, in medieval Europe, scientific knowledge was confined to a secretive exclusive few.
Then, in 1665 the Royal Society published the first issue of its Philosophical Transactions. This was a seminal moment in the history of science, it was the beginning of open access to scientific information. The journal was committed to the idea that all new discoveries should be disseminated as widely and freely as possible.
Today, an increasing share of scientific research and development is funded by corporations. These corporations have an economic incentive in protecting information rather than disseminating it widely.
Example: recently we have seen instances of companies funding studies and then demanding that they be suppressed when the results do not come back to their satisfaction.
The challenge the scientific community faces today is whether it can survive the growing commercialism of scientific endeavors.
— Extracted from The Wisdom of Crowds by James Suroweicki