It depends on your motive and purpose and the merits of the software manufacturer!
Today high-technologies are mostly developed patented and owned by big corporations. Almost none of these corporations are owned by observant Muslims or descent human beings that are truly fair and honest in their business. Corporations tend to exploit labor, provide services to customers regardless of moral qualifications even if their customer is a corrupt political institution. Corporations also don't give a damn about users' privacy so long as they can violate and profit from it with impunity. Examples: Google and Facebook.
Corporations also tend to monopolize technologies for maximizing selfish profit. By this they also give the rich classes who can buy and use their expensive services an influential competitive edge against marginalized, disadvantaged or poor classes and groups. These are in fact integral workings of any capitalist system when everything is motivated by profit and ends in profit.
Therefore, a strong case can be made that these corporations are virtually thieves that work to widen the class gap and inequality, and provide the ruling class with the means of further subjugating us economically, culturally and politically.
These are the reasons why I personally favor a Robin Hood argument for pirating software developed and sold by big corporations for the use of people provided that the pirated software is used for purposes that truly benefit the humanity at large. I believe this can also be justified from an Islamic point of view. In the Battle of Badr, Prophet Muhammad and His companions after years of suffering under Pagans' persecution and socioeconomic boycott, chose to invade a passing pagan merchant caravan in order to provide sustenance for themselves.
The robbing of the pagan merchant caravan was quite justified because pagans had no right over possessions for various reasons such as:
- illegal means through which they had obtained wealth in the Era of Ignorance,
- for depriving Prophet and His followers from their necessary livelihood by putting them under boycott,
- and for spending their wealth in illegitimate ways worst of all in waging war against Allah and His Prophet and followers.
That's while, according to Islam, all possessions are considered Allah's blessings and bounties ("To Allah belongs the Kingdom of Heavens and the Earth and whatever therein" (5:120) and "All glories belong to Allah" (35:10)), and therefore should be used in honest and noble ways as endorsed and encouraged by Islam, such as
But corporations throughout modern history, for a major part, don't work according to these principles and are not motivated by any of these noble incentives (in fact a lot corporations work for purely material gains and contribute to much of corruption and injustice we see around the world today), so they have no right over much of their possessions according to Islam.
But in case the software developers are truly descent people with noble aspirations, I believe it haram to pirate their software as they deserve compensations for the efforts they have put in with noble motivations. Those noble motivations surely include providing livelihood for themselves and their families.