The R4 flash cart has been the bane of Nintendo's handheld existence for years now, with the device widely being used to play illegally downloaded DS ROMs. Rampant piracy has made it especially difficult for third-party developers to reach projected sales marks, and is also the reason non-Japanese-speaking gamers never get to experience great, albeit niche, games like Retro Game Challenge 2 – there's just no money in localising them.
Yet while many gamers do indeed use the device for illegal reasons, many in the homebrew community argue that the carts have legitimate uses as well. Flash carts can be used to run homebrew software that turns the DS into a PDA, a movie player and even a telephone. All these arguments have become a moot point for UK homebrewers, however, as the High Court in England recently deemed all flash carts to be illegal.
The ban comes from (appropriately named) Judge Justice Flood, levied in a case against a firm called Playables, which had over 160,000 of the devices seized from them. Nintendo filed suit, and the judge ruled in their favour, essentially making all sales, imports or advertising of flash carts illegal in the UK.
When given the homebrew argument by Playables lawyers, the judge argued that "the mere fact that the device can be used for a non-infringing purpose is not a defence."
In reaction, Nintendo said the move shows their support for developers, who routinely get their attempts to make quirky and innovative games for the platform circumvented by gamers refusing to pay for them.
Nintendo promotes and fosters game development and creativity, and strongly supports the game developers who legitimately create new and innovative applications.
Nintendo, along with the rest of the industry, isn't joking around either. The company has seized over 100,000 flash carts since 2009 in the UK alone, and earlier this year a man was handed a 12-month prison sentence for importing R4 cards to the UK.