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We use operational emails for that very purpose and for those same reasons. As long as the initial email (if that's the marketing channel you used) to solicit members is a type of marketing email, you are okay with making the rest operational. Registration and confirmation emails are exempt from CAN-SPAM regulations. I look at it this way: if I sign up for a webinar or other event with a company, do I want to receive a confirmation email? And would the experience actually be worse if I didn't receive the email? I say yes to both.
Also, see here: https://community.marketo.com/MarketoArticle?id=kA050000000L3DpCAK
We also use operational emails for thank you email (where you have direct links to pdf). We feel same way as Amy:
if somebody fills out a form to receive a white paper, they should receive it.