Very nice 8Bit Junkie
Never heard of Harmony carts being stopped before, I know loads of people with them. Most people don't give a crap about those kinds of regulations, especially for what are essentially homebrew projects for obsolete hardware. Nothing to get hung up about in my opinion.
On the subject of the Flashback consoles - I just don't see the point when I have the real thing!
there are millions of joysticks imported every year without the WEEE confirmation and regulation either. Question is only when and how european government implement a control instance (plan exists). Currently the 24 people managing the WEEE registrations in germany only focus on those who gets their attention or import larger quantities, there are busy with management of the registrations.
Nevertheless according to law it is forbidden. I agree that the WEEE is a lot of grab specially for smaller companies but on the other side it was agreed by industry and all european countries to follow it. And it tries to control the dump...so economically the right way even if the choosen method is wrong. In Australia for example you must pay direct dump taxes (I personally would also prefer rather than this "generic payment" approach) and there are plenty of other countries outside europe having their own regulations....
It's like a bank robbery: if too many people steal money then police will focus on the bigger one and finally come back to the others. robbery is still against law. Getting something thru custom depend on the knowledge of the involved people or simple how many you try to import. The next level of the regulations contains a sentence which tells custom the importer must prove to follow regulation and not reverted as within current definition. For example getting a watch from a kickstarter project was finally not possible as the sender in the US was not able to deliver a ROHS compliance nor WEEE registration. The watch was sent back or as a second option the custom offered to dump them. Guess I've sent them back and asked to resent with valid certifications. Finally it went thru the custom after the people behind the kickstarter project realized there is more to do to offer devices in european countries, sure it required some month but now they are able to sell in europe without any restrictions. Another guy who ordered at the same time have had no issue to get them thru custom. The discussion groups are full of samples specially the one focussed on electronic devices. If you follow the atari-home forum you will find some entries containing import requests for Harmobny cards of people from US to europe which were all denied by known suppliers (finally all pointed to Abbuc....).
As the regulations are nearly 10 years old there should be no surprise either!
To follow the regulation is not a big task if you read them carefully and use the valid possibilities by simple changing the design or alter the concept. Many companies like the biggest one selling electronic assembly kits do so since WEEE is law. So why should someone soo stupid to risk a high fee (up to 50.000 Eur) if he is able to bypass it if he alters the project? Offering the Harmony as an assembly kit for example would be ok or they simple register for the countries they do business with. Finally AtariAge want to make big money and do not care about customers because these customers are the people who act illegal because they are "vendors" in terms of WEEE import definition. And they finally hit local companies with their business attitude and as a result the regulations will be drilled down more and more.... if they plan to sell more items why not simple register as other companies do, there are so many american companies acting according to law...
Finally the regulations do not prevent a project it is pure lie it only makes it more complicated as you have the choice to release them as opensource (sure for free) or alter the concept to bypass regulation. It only limits business for those who want to earn money but are not willing to fullfill dump regulations or unwilling to alter the concept and earning less money. And it is clear you have a business advantage offering cheaper (as you do not pay for regulations). Nothing else! Possibilities: use only WEEE certified components, do not add a housing, built internally, do not add a brand etc. there are many ways which must be of course verified and do not match for all cases or projects. So only lazy to invest some minutes to be on the safe side?
The difference between Flashback and original console plus Harmony: the Flashback follows the regulation rules as it is "harmonized" for european market so you are able to buy them legally. An illegal option is none because it officially does not exist.