A New York court says Levon Helm long ago signed away rights that let an advertising agency use the song "The Weight" in a cellphone commercial.
The Band's former drummer and singer sued ad agency BBDO Worldwide Inc. in 2004. An appeals court ruled against him Thursday.
Helm sued after the 1968 classic cropped up in an ad for what was then Cingular Wireless. He said he didn't approve that use.
But the appeals court says the recording contract surrounding the song gave a record label permission to license it to the agency.
Helm lawyer John O'Neill says the contract only gave the label permission to promote the music itself. BBDO's lawyer didn't immediately return a call seeking comment.