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Is there a way to find out whether a font is authentic or fake? Font files both online and on my machine are often of unclear origin, yet I'd like to be sure that I paid for the fonts that are commercially available and that I have a genuine original.

Is there a way to check the authenticity of a font file?

I am interested mostly in Type 1 fonts (.pfm and .pfb files), but also an answer for Open Type (otf) and True Type (.ttf) would certainly be useful.

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    What do you mean by "authentic" – Kermit Apr 24 '14 at 17:37
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    @Kermit authentic in the sense that it comes from the original foundry (i.e. it is not homemade), and that it has not been modified. I am honestly not an expert, but I just want to make sure that the fonts I use are "original". – John Marvin Apr 24 '14 at 18:07
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    There's no way of knowing whether a font has been modified without using something like an MD5 checksum. A modification could leave copyright/foundry info intact. An example has even appeared on GD.SE (since corrected). – Andrew Leach Apr 24 '14 at 18:33
  • Also note that modifying a font doesn't make it 'fake'. – DA01 Jun 4 '14 at 2:15
  • My interest in this question is also the 'online purchase' part I edited in--I'd like to avoid getting a font for free somewhere when it turns out it's commercial, and I'd like to avoid paying for one in case it is actually released by its creator/owner. – Vincent Nov 7 '14 at 12:27
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+200

The way you authenticate a piece of software (a font is a piece of software) is you have a receipt of purchase and a license agreement on paper stored on file. Without these 2 options its nearly impossible to verify ownership. In case of digital stuff you still need to have a paper copy of the money transaction and the license key. Then the vendor can authenticate the key itself.

In essence is you have some sort of letter of authentication that guarantees ownership. If you buy stuff from 3rd parties you need to get a receipt and the original receipts to trace the source down. But beware many countries do not allow you to transfer licenses without special permission from the license holder.

In practice its actually pretty hard to validate ownership of licensed items. Best purchase the stuff from the vendor directly WITH the company credit card as this is often a problem if it was bought by somebody else.

PS: I'm not a lawyer, better yet I'm not YOUR lawyer and don't know your jurisdiction so please check with a legal counsel.

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Do you own a licence for the fonts? If so, most foundries will let you redownload a fresh, unmodified file that you can be sure is authentic. ;)

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