Be careful with free fonts – double check the license

I'm looking for a few fonts right now that can be freely redistributed. One of the sites that popped up was Open Font Library, a site that boasts logos from Mozilla and some other companies to appear credible. One of the fonts they list is Estrangelo Edessa, licensed under MIT (X11) License according to the site.

The problem is that all of my research point towards this being dangerously wrong. Specifially, everything points towards the font being owned by Microsoft, and they have their own licensing options. The TTF and OTF Files in the archive specifically mention that the font is copyrighted by Microsoft - I have found no, absolutely no evidence that the Font is in any way free. It is included with the Windows Operating System which makes it readily available, but if you need to distribute the font (e.g. as a Sprite Font for a game) to non-Windows-OS, you enter very shaky legal ground.

I am very well aware that there is a certain attitude towards downloading and using fonts that ignores all licensing concerns, and I doubt that anyone cares if you use a pirated font to print your "Yard Sale and Tom's 6th Birthday party" flyer. But if you want to distribute a font as part of a product or use them in very public publications, I highly recommend reading up on font licensing. NBCUniversal got sued at least twice over using unlicensed fonts and even though in both cases they settled out of court, it's reasonable to assume there was money involved. Rick Santorum and Microsoft also have tales to tell regarding font lawsuits.

Fonts are copyrighted computer programs, and just because some website claims that the font is "free" doesn't mean that they are right. And even with free fonts, sometimes they are only free for Non-Commercial use. Always double and triple check who the actual creator of the font is and what the actual license is.