@ Phil Edwards: ...but presumably only with the 4 standard verses?
As an aside, back in the 1950s a british skiffle group recorded a 'UK' version of the lyrics.......bloody awful!!
A further aside- schoolkids in Jamaica, Zimbabwe etc. sing Bob Marley songs..........
Now and again in the course of this thread reference has ben made to the 1954 definition of folk music. With hindsight it must be clear to many people that,even back in 1954, that definition was teetering precariously on the brink of obsolescence. Since then things have taken giant steps forward..........
Oral transmission: I suspect this is inversely proportional to literacy rates. Where literacy rates are generally high there is less demand for oral transmission. Also, whilst Mudcatters will probably have high scores here, how many parents these days sing to their kids? How many take the time to go through not only nursery rhymes but also kids songs - of whatever provenance? How many take the easy way out and plonk the brats in front of the goggle-box/PC, give them cds of modern childrens songs and leave them to their own devices or consider this a responsibilty of the kindergarten?
Variations to lyrics and melody: It's difficult to see how variations can occur these days, given the availability of song and tune books, cds, YouTube and websites like MUDCAT.....This applies not just to 'folksong' but also to pop and rocksongs. We no longer need to grapple with lousy pronunciations mumbled into a wall of sound on crackly vinyl discs, instead we just google around till we find what we want on the net or we post a query on, for example, Mudcat and receive the correct lyrics almost before you can blink. From this viewpoint the 'lack of variations' of pop/rocksongs sung at parties, campfires etc. is understandable. Even if we can't find the lyrics as text there's likely to be a YouTube video available where we can take them down in the 'traditional way'.
Copyright: This is finite and, if some people get their way, will become obsolete. Furthermore, it only really comes into play in connection with recordings,big concerts etc. If Mudcatters want to sing 'Da-Da-Da' to their kids and they, in turn, pass it on to their kids (andsoonandsoon......) the fact that the song was 'composed' and subject to copyright will slip into the background, even assuming that the name of the composer(s) was known. Whilst songwriters like Chuck Berry, Lennon&McCartney,Jagger&Richards et al are these days more or less household names, who knows who wrote, for example, "The Rose" (I know, I noted it when I copied the lyrics) or, referred to above, "Da-Da-Da"? (I think I know, but I don't know who translated it).
Those who, with apologies to Kant, invoke a 'categoric negative' in terms of pop/rocksongs eventually acquiring some sort of 'traditional' status are, to my mind, grasping at virtual straws.