Can a University force web visitors to connect with their University ID to access a document licensed under Creative Commons containing a NonCommercial element (NC)?

Enrolling into at University a student often costs money, and the ability to access the document could be viewed as a perk for employees (i.e. indirect compensation): as a result, I wonder whether putting the document behind the University wall is considered as a commercial use of the document.

For example, I see that Stanford University forces web visitors to log in with their university account to access this CC BY-NC document:

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    You pay your ISP to access NC material on the web, because you pay them to access all material on the web: is that an issue? No, of course it isn't. And the university doesn't ask for a payment for each access to an NC paper, does it? – 410 gone Jan 17 '15 at 19:18
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    If you take 5 NC articles, append them and sell them as a book, you might run into trouble. If you take 1000 NC articles, put them on a FTP, and sell the access, I don't know what happens. Etc. I wonder from what point NC starts. – Franck Dernoncourt Jan 17 '15 at 19:27
  • As a separate matter, as I understand it, in the US only the copyright holder can enforce a license, so you'd have to get the author to challenge them putting it behind a Stanford wall (and if the author, as part of some paperwork, signed something letting Stanford post it behind a Stanford wall, CC-NC doesn't apply because they aren't using it under that license). – cpast Jan 17 '15 at 21:54

Creative Commons "NonCommercial" prohibits uses that are "primarily intended for or directed toward commercial advantage or monetary compensation." Under U.S. law, where exactly the boundary lies can only ultimately be determined by development of precedent in case law, since the U.S. has a common-law legal system.

It is pretty clear, though, that this type of use would be non-infringing, for the following reasons:

  1. Virtually no person pays to become a university student for the primary reason of access to online documents. Likewise, it is an exceedingly minor perk for employees and could not be considered to give the university a significant commercial advantage (rare historical documents might be a different matter).
  2. The actual barrier is a University ID, which can typically also be acquired in many ways that do not involve compensation passing in either direction (e.g. research affiliates).
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