Space Piracy is a pretty big thing because it's very lucrative (the cargo of a merchant vessel is often worth a lot. Pirates will usually take the vessel and those within to sell as well) and, so long as one just avoids having to actually fight (threatening merchant vessels, avoiding any pirates who are hostile and remembering to bribe the military police if there's no escape), not that dangerous... assuming you don't share a ship with anyone who is overly homicidal... which is worryingly often as there are those who become pirates because they want to kill and are disappointed with how little fighting actually happens... such individuals don't usually last long as nobody wants to be in a ship for years at a time with them and there kinda is that element of lawlessness.
The Pirate Confederation, as much as it also deals in smuggling, is a primarily piracy-based organization with information networks, internal rules (ew), a massive presence in bribery and the clear ability to go shaking hands with a lot of governments and businesses, especially with regards to smuggling or the crippling of competition.
Used to be: Pirate President (elected from among and by Pirate Council) -> Pirate Council Members (leaders of smaller pirate organizations) -> Their own organizations with their own rules and internal issues.
Post-takeover: Pirate President -> Second, third, fourth etc in command (usually those that the Pirate President personally knows) -> Pirate Council Members (advisers to Pirate President, often also second/etc in command) -> Fleet Commanders, who each command 20 ships and act on the orders of the Pirate President -> Ship Captains -> Those within their captain's ship.
Everyone in it is either there for money or to escape things from their past. The organization serves so that everyone can collaborate on that.
They generally keep any ships they acquire that are either battle-worthy or could be made battle-worthy with a small enough number of modifications ("small enough" generally means slightly more than just taking apart and remaking the thing) and so have a massive and varied fleet. Tonnes of money, some of their own plasma stations, mines, lots of varied weapons, priceless artifacts which are just waiting for someone who's willing to pay for them, compact farms for their own food and drugs, their own internal economy and a solar system all to themselves.
The Pirate Confederation was formed due to the CHG cracking down on piracy. Pirate groups banded together, sharing information so that the military police could be avoided and only unguarded merchant fleets attacked, and named it the Pirate Confederation. Small beginnings are nothing new in the wind-up (or wind-down, depending on which you consider more important: complexity or available matter/energy) machine that is the Universe.
With their new size, they quickly branched out beyond the CHG - despite the density of prey it offered - for the less defended space of the Vassal/Puppet Nations and Outter Colonies of the CHG. There, they assimilated and destroyed other pirate organizations in order to gain as close as possible to a monopoly on the piracy jig at the same time as taking bribes from companies to leave their fleets alone and cripple other companies, even telling companies "well the total amount that our anonymous contributors are willing to pay for us to ruin your company's ability to operate is £X and you'll need to pay us 1.5x that for us not to" to make a bidding war between rival companies in which the money simply flooded into those at the top of the Pirate Confederation, who had to make sure to compensate their underlings for the loot they were missing out on. Over time, they became more centralized as they got themselves a clear central leader and rules of succession (there are 40 inaccessible rooms containing multiple mediums of writing stating who the successor is to be and they're only made accessible when the leader steps down or dies) and dipped their fingers into off-the-record transporting of people and items, the market for illegal (high-end drugs, weapons, etc) and untaxed goods and GMO slavery, resulting in a weird situation where some of the money gotten by selling GMOs stolen from merchant fleets is used to buy other GMOs that become equals among the pirates.
True centralization for the organization, which was becoming more vital as internal figures vied for larger portions of the goods, came with the takeover of Marul Saglafth. The pirate leader of the time was failing to keep the council members in check and they were taking more for themselves at the cost of those who actually acquired the resources so the people of Russi- I mean, the pirates rose up and took over. Marul Saglafth was the one who organized this takeover, specifically doing so in a manner that meant the Pirate Confederacy didn't lose any significant amount of its power, and so ended up as the leader by default. He changed to the new system so that the leader had utter control and the middle-men had no opportunity to swindle for themselves while the example set by how the previous Pirate President was put through a Hell Simulation (some sick monster made a downloadable simulation of what it would be like to be in biblical hell and for some reason every organization seems to be in possession of at least one VR helmet with the program downloaded onto it) until he died from sheer agony helps remind future leaders that these are, in fact, criminals that they've got working for them.
It was after this that the Pirate Confederacy got its hands on solid, untouched territory in a solar system where they've built a collection of space stations and have bio-spheres on the planets present. They're actually scarily close to becoming a fully-fledged nation as, after 50 years of terrorizing both human and alien space (oh yeah they're in on the LIR too now), there are families within the Confederation who raise their children into members, even if usually preferring that said children fill the majority roles behind the lines in engineering, ship building, information surveying, construction, accounting, food production, selling the goods the pirates acquire and produce, making the things the pirates produce from things they mine, farm or steal and so on.
Demography and Population
They're almost entirely human but aliens do make up a sizable minority among them. The percentage of aliens is likely to increase as the Pirate Confederation slowly but surely manages to get its tentacles into the LIR which, despite having far tougher pirate groups than the pre-confederation ones that humans had to put up with, aren't likely to stop the Pirate Confederation due to how much more hatred and inability to work together they have for one another.
They've got a solar system under their absolute control while a little of the LIR, all the CHG's puppets/vassals and everything in the CHG except the Inner Systems (which are simply too well-patrolled by the CHG) isn't quite their "territory" but is definitely in use by them as they have outposts, recruit from and conduct their operations out there.
For actual warfare rather than 1-sided taking of merchant vessels/fleets and one-off skirmishes, which is usually against pirate groups in places they're expanding into, they basically hire those who already pay half of their loot from raids to them as mercenaries (with wealth and goodies stored up from back when they were giving up half their loot). They can also hire outside help, such as the guard forces of megacorps. If that doesn't sound deadly: please keep in mind that many who become pirates, especially the ones that would be hired for a war, are ex-military and that everyone under the Pirate Confederation has commercial access to genetic modification (plus they often buy badass GMOs) and cyborgification.
Slightly ahead of everyone except the CHG government, which is way ahead of them, thanks to them having many technologically-minded individuals who left their previous lives due to not liking how limits are put upon their experimentation and prefer the Confederation for the fact that they can theoretically acquire all the materials they need for research and the only limitation of rule on experiments is that they be done in designated underground or in-space locations where nobody lives.
Freedom and great variety of religion but most are atheists or agnostic.
Nobody likes them, even if some do use them. Meanwhile the Pirate Confederation seems to like everyone, much as a child likes their bowl of ice cream.
Agriculture & Industry
The organization itself had compact farms capable of feeding up to 80% of them while most of the food that actually gets eaten (the rest is stored up or sold) is commercially grown by members of their organization or bought from private companies.
Trade & Transport
There's tonnes of internal economics with them but for transport they have multiple portals at every outpost and the lack of need for legitimately tankish ships means they can focus more on speed than, for example, the military.
There's no state education as the Pirate Confederacy refuses to admit to being a state but VR technology is widely available and downloading educational courses for your kids to turn them into space-ship-builders and high-quality-meth-cookers.
Has outposts all over the place in the form of various space stations but it gets interesting in their solar system with its bio-spheres as a process I'm now deeming Underworld Progression is taking place: you can't really build upwards because you're in a bio-dome but many will build downwards to create many-layered cities. Also imagine being crazy enough to let most of your space stations grow naturally with time as those on and running them make the additions whenever necessary to create utterly bonkers looking space stations that could be mistaken for wreckage.