Neocons and radical libertarians would have us believe that Harper Collins can set any damn rules they want, because they OWN the rights to the books they publish.
Actually that's not quite accurate. Under our U.S. Constitution at least, copyright protection is a privilege granted by the government NOT a sacred god given property right.
The ability of buyers to make 'fair use' of copyrighted materials is part of the bargain that publishers agree to in exchange for their grant of copyright protection, and the ability of libraries to lend out copyrighted books in perpetuity has been long held to come under these 'fair use' rules.
Since Harper Collins apparently doesn't want to play by these long established rules governing copyrights, perhaps the government needs to step in and inform Harper Collins that they are jeopardizing their eligibility for copyright protection on Harper Collins titles until they rethink their position.
This would NOT be unprecedented. For example, when a company decides to get a patent on a new technology, they have to agree to very stringent rules in exchange for being granted patent protection. If they don't want to do this, they do have the option of opting out of the patent process and simply trying to keep the technical details of their discovery as a 'trade secret', in which case they could theoretically retain that secret forever.
However this grants them NO PROTECTION under the law.
Since Harper Collins clearly doesn't want to play the Copyright game by the long established rules, I guess we have to assume that they wish to waive their copyright protections.