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BlackBerry Overtime: Should You Get Paid For Checking After Hours?

A Blackberry devise is used
Susan Walsh
A Blackberry devise is used

There's no question that between BlackBerrys and being able to log into your work email from your home computer, we work longer hours than ever. The question is: should you be compensated for that late-night BlackBerrying?

I check my BlackBerry right before I fall asleep, immediately upon waking, and even in the middle of the night if I happen to wake up, so needless to say, I was amused to stumble upon this story.

The Writers Guild and ABC news are now locked in another battle after ratifying a new contract in December. A few weeks ago ABC's news division asked three new writers to sign a waiver saying they would not be compensated for checking their BlackBerry after leaving work. When come concern arose, ABC took the BlackBerrys (which they had given) back from the writers. The guild says it's really not a big deal. And I'm sure this specific instance isn't. But it does raise some increasingly pressing and universal questions:

What counts as work? On the heels of a writers strike, and as we face a potential Screen Actors Guild strike, it's clear that, especially in creative fields, the definitely of work is being redefined. I expect contracts to be increasingly specific about what's covered and what qualifies.

Should BlackBerrying earn overtime only if the writers are creatively crafting news reports rather than updating their colleagues? Needless to say, I'm sure there are many people tied to their BlackBerrys who wish that time "counted" and that they got paid by the hour.

Questions? Comments? MediaMoney@cnbc.com

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  • Working from Los Angeles, Boorstin is CNBC's media and entertainment reporter and editor of CNBC.com's Media Money section.