Ono said the decision "weakens" the rights of copyright owners
Yoko Ono has lost a legal bid to block the use of a 15-second clip of John Lennon's song Imagine in a film challenging the theory of evolution.
Lennon's widow and his two sons had sued the makers of Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed, claiming they used the song without permission.
But US District Judge Sidney Stein found in favour of the film-makers based on a "fair use" doctrine.
Ono said they planned to appeal against the decision.
The defendants - Premise Media Corp, of Dallas, Rampant Films of Sherman Oaks, California, and Rocky Mountain Pictures, of Salt Lake City - welcomed the decision.
"There were important free-speech issues here - they were literally asking the judge to censor the film," said their lawyer, Anthony T Falzone.
Ono, her son Sean Ono Lennon, and Julian Lennon - Lennon's son from his first marriage - had sought a preliminary injunction before the film gets a wider release.
But Mr Stein ruled that if the case went to court, the film-makers would probably win under laws allowing the use of copyrighted material for commentary or criticism.
In a statement Ono said: "It is a pity that this decision weakens the rights of all copyright owners."
The film presents a sympathetic view of intelligent design - the theory that the universe is too complex to be explained by evolution alone.
It opened in the US in April and is set for release in Canada later this month and on DVD in October.