With the advent of the new player owned customs offices (POCOs), I would think this is an outstanding opportunity to get some passive income for the pirate organizations. Even before Crucible, pirates could have been passively earning money from carebears, supplementing their pirating income off the hard work and sweat of some bears and that would help take a load off their cash flow issues and balance sheet woes. How?
In short, it could be easily accomplished, ok, perhaps not "easily", but it could be accomplished by any pirate organization out there in low-sec, if their corp/alliance size matched the size of their area of influence and their motivation. In essence, it's the same thing that big null-sec sovereignty holders do to their vassals and renters, only without the issues of worrying about sovereignty structures and all the money involved with holding it.
As a player who also likes to mine on top of missions and PVP, I would like to go mine in low-sec, but as it's tough to get alliance/corp combat support, it usually doesn't happen much. If a pirate corp was pretty well controlling a system, and was charging miners who would like to mine, a weekly "protection fee" for being set to blue, the pirates could gain passive income for merely letting people mine in the same system. This service could be sold to individuals, or corps, and making the service individual means solo players could mine and even mission in the system(s) without them having to worry about organizing their corp to come along. If no miners are coming into the pirate's low sec system because they don't want to get popped - the pirates aren't making money from looting or salvaging any wrecks. If players can pay for safe passage, there is an income source that didn't exist at all before, and all that has to be done on the part of the pirate, is to not shoot them. So, before - no one to shoot - no isk. After, still no one to shoot - no isk, BUT blue indies - free isk.
With the new POCOs, the pirates can do exactly the same thing with PI. In the pirate system, all the pirates have to do is go along, pop all the customs offices and put up their own. From what I understand, the customs fees go to the people that own the POCO. They might even be able to set the customs fees to a custom level, as in lower than NPC taxes, which would encourage more carebears to PAY to be set to blue so they could do PI. So, any planet that has PI on it, the pirates can simply message the owners and explain the new PI rules to them. They pay to be set to blue, just like any miner or mission runner, PLUS, the pirate gets the cash from their PI transactions too.
Now, likely the first thing that will pop into the small minds of the epeen crowd, is that it won't be fun to set people to blue, because then you can't shoot them, or aren't supposed to shoot them. That would be correct, but that isn't a problem. Why? Because you're being PAID not to shoot them. It's a free ransom that didn't cost you anything to get. That then leaves the pirate free to jump to other systems looking for targets, or, to stay in system, and shoot the people who have come in to shoot the people under your "protection". You'd also likely get the opportunity to shoot the people coming in to take out your POCOs too. Now, if a pirate corp started getting enough members to start taking over, or controlling more than one system, that is not only more PVP opportunities to protect your systems, but it is also more passive isk. The more your corp tries to control, the more opportunities for isk and the more for pvp to take and then defend that area. If there is more than just one pirate corp in the area, with this protection and extortion model in operation, then there will be pirate turf wars. More pvp.
So how is this protection racket enforced? Simple. You do what you do now - shoot anyone that isn't blue OR you use the opportunity to strike a deal and create a new customer. Before you pop their boat, you explain the deal, and they can start paying you right then and there. Once they are a client, if they are late on a payment, you pop their boat, as a warning, and let their pod go. They get a day to sort their shit out, or they lose their blue status. Now, obviously, this means that a couple people will need to keep track of who to set to blue and who has paid. If this duty is offloaded to a few corp members, ones that are smart enough to see the value, it's easy enough to keep track of, especially for the income it could garner for the corp.
So what EVER could a pirate corp be able to do with EXTRA isk? Isk subsidies for active pilots. Partial or full ship replacement programs for the pirate corp members. Replacement POCOs for ones that are lost, or to expand into new areas. I imagine there are a lot of things that extra sources of isk income could be used for in a pirate corp.
So like just about every other idea I've ever had, it isn't original. I don't read any Eve related fora much, but I can't believe no one has suggested or tried this, or is doing this. This model has worked for centuries, in real life, and is exactly how gangs and the mafia work in real life, and they make MILLIONS. For any small minded, epeen pirate who claims they're not interested in any of this "carebear bullshit", their under developed minds are missing the reality that for the vast majority of a pirate corp, all they need to do is NOT shoot a player to get paid. If they need to wield their epeen so badly, they can always jump next door to find someone to shoot while blues in their own system are paying the pirates to leave them alone.
So many people point out and/or complain that low sec is broken, and it is. The pirates shoot everyone, then no one wants to play in low sec, and then the pirates whine that no one wants to play in low sec. Duh. So here's a chance to fix low sec. For the vast majority of pirates, it requires no effort. It doesn't require any brilliant coding or balancing efforts. It doesn't need any input from CCP at all. Pirate corps can start doing it, riiiight . . . now! Wow. That easy. It's just a matter of changing a pirate's mindset, because for real world pirates, they did, and still do, the EXACT SAME THING. They take people that are going about their daily business and say "If you pay me money every week, I WON'T fuck you up. If the pirates in a system aren't utilizing any of the sites, or belts or missions or rats, why not grab a clue and let people PAY YOU so THEY can use them? Let carebears in to mission, mine and do PI, and let them pay you so you won't shoot them. Pirates can still be pirates and be smart. Pirates can still be pirates and have just a smidge of honour.
The Point? Are any pirates running protection rackets, if not, why? It's free isk.