There is a current ER: 943881 - SolidWorks Treehouse should work without the need of the license activation. Create a standalone version..
Due that that, I suspect the answer is yes, the user needs a license.
I suspect it has less to do with licensing than with the swdocmgr.dll that 'reads' the references. That is installed/registered with SOLIDWORKS and most likely missing from the peripheral products, even if you figured out how to install those without a license.