A pirate is one who robs or plunders at sea without a commission from a recognized sovereign nation. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pirate (those commissioned by a nation were called Privateers or Corsairs) The most famous corsair was Sir Francis Drake and England was the main nation in promoting them.
- contributors: Richard Barbrook, John Perry Barlow, William Baugh Jr., David Bennahum, Hakim Bey, David Brin, Andy Cameron, Dorothy Denning, Mark Dery, Kevin Doyle, Duncan Frissell, Eric Hughes, Karrie Jacobs, David Johnson, Peter Ludlow, Timothy May, Jennifer Mnookin, Nathan Newman, David Post, Jedediah Purdy, Charles Stivale
"The Barbary Wars" (starting 1801) http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/ops/barbary.htm
Excerpts from The Invisible Hook ISBN:0691137471 - To prevent captain self-dealing, pirates democratically elected their leaders and dispersed power among other members of the crew, such as the quartermaster. Under this managerial setup a captain best served his own interest by serving his crew's interest. If he didn't, his crew could remove him from command. To prevent crew members from shirking, pirate organization made all crew members equal, or nearly equal, "shareholders" in the company's profits. This strengthened the connection between each individual pirate's effort and his individual payoff. To prevent piratical free riding, pirate articles established bonuses for crew members who displayed noteworthy courage and spotted prizes; and in some cases crew members reserved the right to vote on the share a particular pirate received. This allowed pirates to reward hard-working crew members and punish lazy ones. Pirate articles also provided workman's compensation, which reduced private disincentives to take risks that could cause injury.