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If we adopt something like CommonLoops where all objects have an
associated class, then the Copy problem becomes factored in a different
way; that is, one independently decides for each class the response to
two messages, COPY and COPY-IN:
COPY is the top level call. It produces a copy if it can
e.g. a new cons pair, same symbol, but a copy of a named structure
COPY-IN is the recursive call. Each type determines whether to return
itself or a copy for inclusion in a larger structure.
The protocol suggested by dfm is probably the appropriate definition for
COPY-IN. For named objects, COPY and COPY-IN would differ. For CONSes
they would be the same, etc.