Most pirates operating in Realmgard are governed by and operate within the established conventions of the Brotherhood of the Coasts (as laid out in the Lex Antiqua Piratica). Terms of service and contracts are negotiated between the kingdoms, city-states, and other polities of Realmgard and the Brotherhood on behalf of its members. This means, strictly speaking, the most pirates in Realmgard are properly to be considered privateers, because they operate with the sanction of a political entity to act against its rivals.
Unsanctioned pirates do exist and operate within and around Realmgard, though they are generally considered blackguards and renegades by both the other pirates and legitimate navies and law enforcement of Realmgard. These unsanctioned pirates have no allegiance expect to themselves, and occasionally each other, though some alliances are often fleeting and only matters of convenience – pirates not being known for their constancy or better natures.
These unsanctioned pirates are opportunistic and will attack ships flying under flag. Likewise, they will often be attacked by ships flying under any flag. The pirates of the Brotherhood are particularly hostile towards these unsanctioned pirates, as their actions harm the reputation and stability of the Brotherhood and its contracts.