Here is how it used to work:
The university bought journal articles from a publisher.
The publisher printed and mailed the article to the university.
Any random person could walk into the university library and read the article.
The random person could use what they learned to make money, so long as they did not violate any patents. The patents issue is
I approach the ethics of this question in terms of society membership.
If a person is a serious member of a research community, they should be helping to support that community in a number of ways, including paying money to help support the publications maintained by its research societies. Universities generally both support societies and provide access by ...