A Palmerston North lecturer in Japanese culture has struck out at Kim Dotcom for his choice of album cover artwork, saying the image is distasteful because of connections between it and the 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Japan.
But internet entrepreneur Dotcom says the lecturer should have more important things to worry about.
The cover of Dotcom's debut album Good Times, released last month, features him grinning while holding a coral gerbera flower.
Penny Shino, a lecturer in Japanese culture and language at Massey University, said the cover evoked imagery from the Japanese song Hana Wa Saku, aka Flowers will Bloom.
That song was written in the aftermath of the March 2011 earthquake, which caused a massive tsunami to strike the coast of Japan.
More than 15,000 died in the wake of the magnitude 9.0 quake, which also caused meltdowns at the nuclear power plant in Fukushima.
Proceeds from the song were used to support disaster recovery efforts.
Shino said the coral gerbera had become a symbol of the disaster, and featured heavily in videos of people singing Flowers Will Bloom.
The song was shown on Japanese state television almost every night, she said.
Dotcom using the same imagery to promote his album was "highly inappropriate", Shino said.
"Issues of copyright aside, and ruling out coincidence as the song has received worldwide publicity, it seems distasteful to conflate a self-promoting publicity stunt with Japan's attempt to express grief at futures denied, and hope for futures possible."
Dotcom said he had never heard of Flowers Will Bloom before, and was puzzled by Shino's connection.
"How could my cover art cause offence to anybody? It's friendly and peaceful.
"I bet you can take any new cover art today and find something that is remotely similar, like two different people holding an orange flower in two different poses, and complain about it.
"No disrespect to Dr Shino, but I thought people with doctor titles would have more important things to think about."
He said any suggestion by Shino that he was breaking a copyright "just demonstrates how ridiculous the whole copyright debate has become".
Dotcom's album, released through his new music distribution website Baboom, has been panned by critics.
He is awaiting an extradition hearing, set for April, after being accused by the United States Government of copyright offences relating to the file-sharing website Megaupload.
- Manawatu Standard