VIAF is a joint project with the contributing institutions and OCLC doesn’t claim any rights to the data beyond what the group has. Unfortunately the group as a whole has problems coming up with a statement of exactly what is permitted. In lieu of that, our position is that the data on the site is freely available for use through the APIs, although if someone wants a copy of the whole thing they would have to apply to the VIAF consortium (they could do that through me or Barbara Tillett at LC). Along those same lines, if someone is going to have substantial activity against VIAF (multiple queries/second) we’d like to know about it ahead of time.
Over the next few months we will be working on a better statement of what’s permitted, but our intention is to make the data as freely available as possible (even to the NYT).