Maybe sometimes, but not when it comes to using copyrighted works that are owned by two or more people. You can get a nonexclusive license up front from just one of them, without the others' permission. But once you infringe you can't get a retroactive license from just one -- you'd have to get forgiven by all of them.
So held the Second Circuit last Friday, in Davis v. Blige. On the other hand, forgiveness for having invented COBOL should be very hard to get.