Copyright law does not apply to traditional material - eg folk songs, folk tales, etc. But any person's given arrangement, recording, published or illustrated version of that traditional material is copyright protected to them.
It’s not uncommon for people to ‘write’ a song by simply putting their own words to a popular tune. Though it might be OK to sing it casually at a party, in church etc, you need legal permission to record and sell it.
Some literature and songs of unknown origin have become popularised. These are sometimes treated in the same way as traditional material.
If you do not know the source, it is wise to state this - but pleading ignorant won't free you from legal obligations. Make thorough attempts to trace the copyright owner.
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