Suppose I want to use GPL-copyrighted software in a closed-source project. With actively maintained projects I can contact the copyright holders to see if I can work out an agreement with them. But what about abandoned projects? Imagine the following scenario:
I clone the abandoned GPL repository and publish it with a MIT license.
I notify the copyright holders that I re-licensed their work, using whatever contact information is available. If they reply and oppose, I simply remove the repo, or put the GPL license back.
If I get no reply, I go ahead and start working on my commercial software referencing the MIT repository.
When my commercial software is released, if the original copyright owners show up claiming their rights, I invoke the laches defense, arguing that the late action of the copyright owners now causes undue financial harm.
Would the re-licensing of the original GPL repo be considered the violation that sets starts the clock for the laches (and later, the statute of limitations) in this case?